The Story Of Killswitch, The Creepy Game No-One Has Ever Played

There's a game out there, if some are to be believed, that so few people have played it's impossible to verify its existence. That game is Killswitch, the story of a woman waking up in a coal mine with minor wounds, and besting everything from demonic inspectors, to undead miners, to possessed machinery to make it to the surface.

Kotaku's Stranger Things series is presented by the new Netflix original: Stranger Things. When a young boy vanishes, a town uncovers a mystery of secret experiments, supernatural forces, and one strange little girl. Watch it only on Netflix from July 15.

Meant to be one of the earliest horror adventure games, Killswitch had a side-on view with point-and-click-ish gameplay akin to Myst and King's Quest, which would be released later on. You could click on the screen where you wanted your character, Porto, to go. Items you've found would appear at the bottom, and naturally you'd try every item on everything in the world to see what it does.

  Exploring the mine, Porto would find pieces of a tape recorder, and she could listen to the events that transformed the mine into the hellish place it became. There were other puzzles with long arcs, including one described as "laughably complex" in the form of markings on the axes of undead enemies. The markings were in code, and figuring out the cipher for this code was the second hardest thing to do in the game.

     

Technically, I say "second hardest", because Killswitch also included the ability to play as an invisible demon named Ghast, with a finite amount of fiery weaponry to use. Ghast wasn't just invisible to enemies, it was invisible to the player — meaning after you've used up your flame ammo, there was no way to find your own protagonist and navigate the many dexterous challenges such as jumping across platforms and taking out enemies. No one has ever beaten the game as Ghast, so the story goes, and its inclusion was kind of a gimmick.

  Ghast's presence didn't even offer any narrative value that the community could make sense of, until the company released a press release referring to "Porto and her beloved Ghast", as if it were almost some kind of friend or pet. The reason for the press release is the same as the reason you won't find anyone who has actually played the game...

  That's because, conveniently for this urban legend, Killswitch is design to self-terminate after being completed. It deletes all traces of itself on the person's computer, and customers were angry about it. With only 5,000 copies of the game ever supposedly being made, the last few became precious. As players ascended to the top of the mine, they would see a whitened screen (which in Killswitch's monochrome storytelling could be seen as a victorious emergence into light, similar to the beginning of a Fallout game), and suddenly the game would be gone.

  That's perhaps the most unlikely part of this myth. As knowledge of the self-nuke spread, surely the dedicated community would figure out a technical way around it. Are we expected to believe Karvina Corporation solved the piracy problem where so many others had failed? The tech behind such DRM would've been worth far more than the game. But the legend kind of needs you to suspend your disbelief of that weak link in the chain.



That hasn't stopped people from making their own versions of the game though, as you can see above.

  Honestly, even if I try to teleport my consciousness back into a six-year-old version of me, it doesn't look like that fun a game to play. Who could make sense of all those monochrome riddles?

  Serendipitously, it was a fabled saviour of a community member that piped up a few times with extremely valuable info, including the cipher to the incredible difficult code scribbled on the axes of mine workers. That person's name was Porto881, who later also figured out how to stop Porto's random growth spurts, which would otherwise prevent her from fitting through doors in the final level.

  Given that Killswitch is a game about demons rising to wipe out a mine for its policies of basically torturing workers to increase output, some have drawn connections to Soviet industrial practices. It's probably safe to assume at this point that Karvina Corporation is named after Karviná, the Czech Republic town known for its coal mining.

  Now that computers have evolved and people in general know more about them, it's perhaps a little harder to believe the line about this game deleting itself. It'd be a miracle if it even ran on modern computers. But if you can ignore that, it's a fun little creepypasta. So the story goes, there's at least one unfinished copy still out there... But I'd hold off refreshing eBay for the time being.


Comments

    Man, this and the "Ben Drowned"Majoras mask story are my favourite creepypastas of all time

    The links don't work as intended but changing it to .com.au will get you started.

      This seems like it's going to be too fiddly to attempt to figure out on mobile. Guess I'll have to wait.

        I ended up mouse-overing to get the URLs.

      Hovering over the link pretty much tells you as much as you need to know, as far as I can see.

    Slowly working my way through it.
    I feel like this will be greatly satisfying. Good job to the puzzle makers.

      Yep, I am starting to find 'answers' or at least a pattern of results so I'm satisfied at present. Still not finished but it feels like im progressing.

        I've got my final number, but I'm not quite sure what to do with it..

          I'm currently thinking something along the lines of the last puzzle, but don't know what to do from there. Will re-evaluate.

            Well, I know I got them all right but i'm confused. Without giving away to much for those still enjoying working it out, did you get a random number too? I feel like it should be....more. Maybe you're right and it will make sense in the meta puzzle.

              I got two sets of random numbers, no idea what reference is to be used to transpose to letters.

    I have to work now so it'll be my night.. A good night though :)

      I know the feeling. This looks like a fun puzzle so I'm now counting down the minutes until I can get home.

    Hmm, I can see the pattern here, but I'm not sure how to actually interpret it. There's something I'm missing.

    So, I've gotten somewhere, but now I'm entirely lost on what to do next
    Edit: Removed a bunch of details cause it was giving too much away! Sorry!
    But basically I managed to figure out the first part of the puzzle, but now I've got the results of that and don't really have any idea what to do with it.

    Last edited 29/07/16 2:15 pm

      Think along the lines of the previous puzzle.

      Also, you essentially just gave people the puzzle.

        Ooops replied to wrong person.

        Last edited 29/07/16 2:29 pm

        Wasn't really thinking of that, I edited my post now... Oops :(

        Still kind of lost though, I tried something along the lines of the previous puzzle, but it's all gibberish

        Last edited 29/07/16 3:32 pm

          I can assure you that it makes sense, you just have to arrange it in a way that you can read it

            Well, I managed to fluke it somehow! I was reading it in the right way, but I had a wrong number for 1 of the phrases, but I still never figured out the second phrase. Luckily, the first was enough for me to guess the rest

      opps, i mean, that is a dead giveaway!

      Last edited 29/07/16 2:59 pm

    I believe I have the method correct but some of the pairs I've found don't seem to make a coherent answer. :/

      Are you sure? As long as you are pairing them correctly, you're on the right path.

        Yeah, I matched up some of my pairs wrong when I was writing them down. It was a lot easier when I just saved the images.

      The key for each half of the pairs is in the images.

      same for me, somehow I've got a mixture of letters and numbers???

    *clap clap clap*

    Great work from the puzzle makers yet again. The quality of the Poke puzzle was great, and this was excellent as well.

    Looking forward to nutting out the meta puzzle!

      Grrr this is frustrating, I dunno how you guys are getting the answer. I've matched the pairs correctly and triple checked it, I have the numbers, I must have tried at least 6 different methods to get an answer but I only ever get gibberish.

        You should end up with 4 words, then you can guess the final answer from those 4 words.

          I'm not even getting one coherent word, never mind four :/

            Try splitting that one word up into 4 - I'm just trying to figure out where you are in the puzzle

              EDIT: Wait I think I'm on the right track now.

              EDIT 2: Yep got it! Woo!

              Last edited 29/07/16 5:31 pm

            Try looking at the information the same way it's presented in the article.

            Last edited 29/07/16 4:10 pm

              I get how this Puzzle works regarding it's layout, character references and the Protagonists from the from the mentioned game... but I'm not getting anything. am I looking for letters, all I have is numbers that no matter how I look at them don't look like any form of words.

                Did you solve the last puzzle?

                  I got it via Google. I figured out the first column fine but the seconds numbers were too large for characters names.

                  @plus5defense I'm not sure how you did that because everything is in pairs. Still, a result is a result.

                  Maybe I looked into it too much?

                  Edit* I gave away to much, although I'm sure I am the last person to solve this anyway.

                  Last edited 29/07/16 5:48 pm

                  @plus5defense That's probably saying too much and you should edit that out. However you should look at the second part of that again.

                Seems odd that donkeykong doesn't have a space or a hyphen in the url.

                You should probably refrain from giving away too much in your comments @plus5defense (referring to your comment about looking into it too much).

                Last edited 29/07/16 5:42 pm

          So let me get this right,
          1. match the pairs
          2. pairs will lead to LED digits. (dark and light)
          3. extract letters by numbers for the pairs
          4. you get a dark gibberish and light gibberish, split them in 5 and 4 letter words

          So I have 4 words, now what?
          If I discount a letter or two from each gibberish word I can make a word from them, but that still doesnt take me anywhere....?

          Lost.

            You shouldn't need to remove any letters at all, you'll need all of them to make out a clue to get the answer. If they are gibberish, then you went wrong somewhere.

            I'm totally lost too. I've got 2 sets of numbers, ones that appear from the black lines and ones that appear from the grey lines. Are we using a cipher again or are these supposed to be found by stepping through the character names? Who knows!? I get random letters doing it that way :'-(

      I enjoyed this one too. The meta puzzle is causing me anxiety though.

    I got the answer but... I have no idea how. My result is mostly gibberish to the point where I'm sure I've got some things around backwards but... it's a result nonetheless.

      I'd love if you accidentally just solved a completely different puzzle.

        As amazing as that would be, thankfully we know that's not the case.

        *mumbles incoherently*

      I got it in the end too but only from a google search of two words I did have ... bit of a fluke but will take it

      I can now see the other two words in the characters but not sure how these are to be unscrambled in the puzzle, not the same sequence for first two.

      I figured out how the second set of words was meant to be unscrambled. It's not completely intuitive though, but there are clues in the article's layout. It would probably suck if you were viewing the page on mobile though.

      Last edited 29/07/16 5:37 pm

        It all came together very neatly when I wrote it all out using coloured pencils. Funny how much of a difference doing thing analog instead of digitally makes. I'd wager most people that struggled on the final hurdle did it digitally.

          Or they were reading their results out of order, which is what my issue was. Also if you're on mobile, it would no doubt be made more difficult.

          Last edited 29/07/16 6:04 pm

    I thought the puzzle was a bit too Playstation-centric.

      The story was filed under the playstation sub-menu!

      Huh? There's plenty of non-Playstation representation there.

        What do you mean 'plenty' ? Mario & Luigi is the only non-Sony, non-multiplatform pair.

          What do you mean 'plenty' ? Mario & Luigi is the only non-Sony, non-multiplatform pair.

          Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong don't count obviously, they are clearly Sony IPs. What platforms did Banjo-Kazooie appear on again? Oh yeah, totally Sony's.

          Last edited 30/07/16 1:28 am

    Yaay! That was comparatively simple... this one just took like 30 min! The others took me hours! And a lot of clues pointing you in the right direction in this one. Seriously though, these are some really good puzzles. How did you guys even come up with all of this?!!
    #strangerthings

    Last edited 30/07/16 6:14 pm

    I'll confess that I'm confused. Where are you guys getting the numbers from?

      Take a close look at the file names of the images, then look at the patterns on each image.

      Last edited 29/07/16 9:23 pm

        Hmm... I've done that and I think I've gotten a phrase, but now I don't know what to do. Also, one of them was out of range.

        I dunno, I'm feeling mighty dumb right now

          Doh! I got it now. Yet again, I was seeing too much in it.

    I got it but i'm not proud of how long it took me.

    My issue was the ordering. I missed some early clues and then the order was wrong and every subsequent step was off. Also it was right until I had the answer in front of me that I saw all the hints. Good puzzle once again.

    matched the pairs, got the numbers, attempted to to extract letters in a variety of patterns to read but still not getting anything but gibberish. tried ordering based on the article layout, based on the dark/light, based on protag/sidekick and still nothing. plz help.

      How many numbers do you have?

        I have two sets of 9, stuck at same point. No matter how I try to convert the numbers to letters it just makes gibberish.

          Yep, same point as above

            So think about the last puzzle. And you'll need to make sure you have the names in the right order in their pairing. For me, the first name in each pairing was the one whose picture appeared first, and that one became the dark.

              Solved all the other ones (incl. #5) but this eludes me. I thought about the last puzzle and used the numbers to find letters within the pairs. I still end up with gibberish no matter whether I use the main characters in first row or the Porto characters in first row.

                Dang, #5 is eluding me! For this one, I kinda fluked it. I got all the letters in two columns and a jumbled up name jumped out at me. So I googled "computer game (name)" and found it had another character with another name in the jumbled up letters. And that was the answer.

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